The Fireman

Materialized by Jose Hernandez Diaz on Wednesday, December 21st 2022.

I fell from a ten-foot ladder as I was trying to rescue my kitten from a willow tree. I fell into a pile of old wrinkled love poems I had written in youth to a young lady I had a crush on back in undergrad. I refused to ask her out back then, due to extreme shyness, so instead I wrote her dramatic imitations of Petrarchan love sonnets, which, of course, I never sent her.

As I picked myself up off the ground, I noticed the kitten had transformed into Margot Cisneros, the young lady I had a crush on back in undergrad. I asked her out, finally. Now was my chance. Now, that I was a man. She said she was happily married, a nurse, and not a fan of poetry. I told her, but I’m not a poet, I’m a fireman, don’t you see me rescuing you with my axe from this giant willow tree? And we lived happily ever after. The four of us, Margot, the kitten, the willow tree, and me.

Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020) and the forthcoming, Bad Mexican, Bad American (Acre Books, 2024). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, Huizache, Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, Poem-A-Day, Poetry, The Southern Review, Yale Review, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. He teaches, edits, and writes in Southeast Los Angeles.